Obituary: Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo

OPEC Bulletin Commentary – June-July 2022

We have lost a great man, a passionate advocate for OPEC and a terrific Ambassador of Nigeria. The tragic passing of OPEC Secretary General, Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, on July 5, 2022, has sent shockwaves throughout the OPEC family, the oil industry and the international community. It has unleashed a collective wave of sorrow that is very difficult to encapsulate in words. There is simply no other way to express it; our hearts are broken.

The OPEC Bulletin sends its deepest condolences to Mr Barkindo’s family, friends, colleagues and home country, Nigeria. Indeed, everyone who was fortunate enough to know and work with Mr Barkindo feels a profound sense of grief.

His was a life replete with accomplishment and service. They were the recurring themes in his almost four decades of work with OPEC.

While the shock at this news will never subside, the sorrow in our hearts is also tinged with a profound sense of gratitude; for his service, for his positive attitude and his dedication to duty. Everyone who met him has a story of how he touched their lives in some way; a kind word here, a shared joke there.

Of his many qualities that served him as an international statesman of renown, nothing captured his character like his ability to tell stories. He had an outstanding memory and way with words. He carefully filed anecdotes in his memory bank and was able to call upon them at the most appropriate moment or timing.

He had a tremendous thirst for knowledge and was constantly seeking to learn new things. Over and over he repeated the mantra, “no matter your age, you never stop learning.” It was this zest for life and learning, that made him a mentor to many of the next generation of officials from Member Countries and members of staff at the OPEC Secretariat.

It would be difficult to quantify the many lives that Mr Barkindo touched, the many acts of generosity and thoughtfulness he showed to everybody, regardless of rank, nationality, where you were from. For all he attained in life, he remained thoroughly humane.

For the team at the Secretariat, we consider ourselves lucky to have worked closely with him, drank from his fountain of knowledge and learnt him every day. While we are inconsolable, we take comfort from the happy memories he leaves us with.

This Special Edition of the OPEC Bulletin honours his career and legacy. It explores some of the highlights and accomplishments from a life well-lived. Above all it is a celebration; a celebration of sixty-three years of service, duty, friendship, compassion, generosity, kindness and wit. It is a celebration of Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo.

As mentioned, the Secretary General had a special way with words and an appreciation of the literary masters. He loved to use quotes to convey points in his many speeches. He was particularly attached to the following Sonnet from William Shakespeare about friendship, loss and honouring the memory of friends who have passed away. Perhaps it is only somebody of the stature of Shakespeare that convey and memorialize the late, great Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo.

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought

I summon up remembrance of things past,

I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,

And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste:

Then can I drown an eye, unus’d to flow,

For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,

And weep afresh love’s long since cancell’d woe,

And moan th’ expense of many a vanish’d sight;

Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,

And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er

The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,

Which I new pay as if not paid before.

But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,

All losses are restor’d, and sorrows end.

OPEC Bulletin June-July 2022

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